“Eat more fiber.” You hear it all the time, but why? Here are the top 5 reasons to incorporate more fiber into your diet:
- Fiber can help you reach a healthy weight by reducing the absorption of food, promoting the “fullness factor” and decreasing hunger.
- Fiber can “move” out cancer-causing compounds before they can hurt your body.
- Fiber helps maintain gut health, slows down digestion and absorption of dietary sugar.
- Fiber reduces the risk of diabetes by decreasing blood sugar spikes.
- Fiber is heart healthy and can reduce your “bad” cholesterol and decrease inflammation.
How much fiber do you need?
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Both are good for your health, keep you full, and assist with weight loss. Soluble fiber helps keep your heart healthy by removing the bad cholesterol from your body. Insoluble fiber acts like a broom and helps move food through your body to help with healthy digestion.
It is recommended that women ages 19-50 get at least 25 grams of fiber per day, and men 30-38 grams of fiber per day. If you are looking to decrease your cholesterol, aim for at least 10 grams of soluble fiber per day. Keep reading to find out where to find fiber and don’t forget to increase your water intake as you increase your fiber intake!
Where can you find fiber?
Dietary fibers are naturally found in the whole foods we eat. They are parts of plants that do not break down in our stomachs and instead pass through undigested. Dietary fiber is often described as roughage or bulk.
Soluble fiber attracts water and turns into a gel, which will slow digestion down and can help decrease your bad cholesterol. These foods include:
- Seeds & Nuts
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of food and waste through you. These foods include:
- Whole Wheat Bread/Pasta/Cereals
- Whole Grains
- Wheat Bran
- Green Beans
- Potatoes (white and sweet)
- Brown Rice
- Dark leafy greens
- Root Vegetable Skins
On products that have a label such as pasta or bread, always look for whole grains which include at least 3g of fiber or more per serving. To be sure you are choosing whole grains, look at the ingredients of a food and make sure the first ingredient says “whole grain” or “whole wheat.” If the first ingredient is “enriched unbleached,” that indicates a processed grain and should be avoided.
MYTH: You must eat a high carbohydrate diet to get enough fiber.
Many believe that to get enough fiber they have to load up on whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice and oatmeal. Don’t forget about all of the amazing fiber that fruits and vegetables listed above! Fruits and vegetables are low in both calories and sodium and they are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Be sure to make half your plate vegetables at every meal!